Taylor Review: Enforcement of employment rights
TUC Response to the Consultation on enforcement of rights recommendations
We would like to take this opportunity to recommend actions which would tackle the problems in our enforcement system. These include:
- Promoting collective bargaining as the primary vehicle for raising workplace standards and ensuring compliance with labour standards;
- Boosting the effectiveness of state led enforcement activity, by making sure that agencies are sufficiently resourced;
- Reinstating the power for employment tribunals to make recommendations where employers are found to have breached employment standards. The power to make recommendations should not be limited to claims brought under the Equality Act 2010, but should apply to all statutory employment rights.
- Extension of the existing GLAA licensing scheme. The TUC would like to see the licensing model currently used by the Gangmasters Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), in the shellfish-gathering, agriculture and horticulture sectors, extended further across the labour market. Licensing requires organisations operating in a particular sector to prove that they can comply with minimum employment standards. This involves providing evidence of compliance with core labour standards through initial and ongoing inspections.
- Establishing a system of joint and several liability throughout supply chains for basic employment standards. Parts of UK employment law already provide for joint and several liability arrangements. The TUC is calling for this approach to be extended, so that organisations who use strategies to transfer their obligations to other parties, can still be found liable for any breaches of the core employment rights of the people who do work for them.
The TUC welcomes the opportunity to respond to the BEIS consultation on the recommendations in the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices on enforcement of employment rights. Unions play a vital role making sure that employment rights are respected and upheld, by:
- Collective bargaining, negotiating improved terms and conditions for working people and putting in place mechanisms to remedy breaches of these terms and conditions where necessary
- Raising employers’ awareness of their employment responsibilities, including when new employment rights are introduced
- Resolving employment disputes using grievance and disciplinary procedures and the right to be accompanied
- Where merited, supporting members to take cases to employment tribunal
- Supporting strategic cases which clarify legal duties and set the norms to be followed by employers in similar workplaces and sectors.
There is large scale non-compliance with basic employment rights in the UK labour market. Up to 580,000 workers are being paid below National Minimum Wage rates. At least 2 million workers do not receive legal minimum paid holiday entitlements, missing out on £1.6bn in paid holiday per year. Existing enforcement mechanisms are clearly failing many workers.
The Taylor Review missed the opportunity to put forward recommendations that would counter the systemic problems in the UK labour market that cause large-scale non-compliance with employment rights. Nevertheless, the Review proposed improvements to the enforcement system which could make it easier for working people to enforce their rights. The government has accepted some of these recommendations and the TUC welcomes this consultation as an opportunity to make sure these proposals help improve the enforcement of employment rights for working people. However, it must be recognised that the scope of this consultation is narrow. Wider action is needed to make sure working people have access to an effective system for enforcing employment rights.